Misconceptions of 'childproofing'


My cousin Michelle walked in the door with a belated birthday present for Katie. Now knowing what presents are, it took her no time to decide Barney would still be there when she was done.

Being a car girl (if only because her brother is a car boy) she was thrilled with the Volkswagen Bug complete with plastic mom and baby in a car seat. She wasn't thrilled with the fact she couldn't play with it right away.

It wasn't because I didn't want her to, it was because I couldn't get it out of the box. First I had to cut through the tape holding the box closed, then I had to pull form-fitting plastic off, and if that wasn't enough to deter theft, the car was wired to a cardboard base, which I had to rip apart to see. The thin, plastic-coated wire wasn't just twisted, it was twisted and then tied in a knot.

It took a knife, wire cutters and pliers to get that little plastic car free, the whole time trying not to slice or pinch Katie who was pulling it and saying "car, car!"

Please, is all that really necessary? I'd have an easier time getting Katie a prescription for valium, and she'd have an easier time getting it out of the bottle than I did getting that car out.

I've come to the conclusion that the only thing that's truly childproof are toys in the box. Everything else just says childproof to lull parents into a state of complacency.

I understand what draws Katie to eat dog food. I don't understand the compulsion that drives her to eat Vicks and it was the lesson she learned by satisfying that craving that led me to a night in the bathtub with a slippery 2-year-old and a bottle of nail polish remover.

It was her addiction to Vicks that taught Katie the art of lefty-loosey, and no nothing is safe.

It doesn't matter how tight the lid is, she'll worry it off in no time flat. And her timing is nothing short of phenomenal.

In the few minutes it took me to unwind the baby from the phone cord, Katie crawled into the recliner had my bottle of "simply red" nail polish in hand and was painting her toenails, and her legs and the chair and she somehow had a stripe down her back.

The chair, of course, is ruined and Katie looked like the loser in a nasty paintball battle.

It takes me hot water and my teeth to get in any of those bottles and I'm still at a loss to know not only how Katie got into it, but how she did so much damage so fast.

She went from the chair to the tub.

Soap, warm water, nail polish remover and my aching back weren't enough to remove all traces.

And by then, I didn't care. The baby-sitter would understand the smudges of red still on her thighs and toes. She would understand because for the first time, she has to keep her bottle of Vicks under lock and key lest it become lunch.

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